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Groups focus on improving White River with $5 million grant

There has been a major effort over the past year, to clean it up.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Most of us don't think of the White River as a place of recreation or escapism. Sometimes, the only experience we have of the river is driving over it. Like many rivers, the White River has been prone to litter and chemical pollution. There has been a major effort over the past year, to clean it up.

Unfortunately, the White River has been a dumping ground for litter and chemicals.

But thanks Pulliam Grant for more than $5 million, the Partners of the White River are making a positive change to our waterways.

"We are intentionally bringing people to the waterways to value it once again with the hope that then they will get involved in some of these activities, whether it's a litter clean up, whether it's doing something positive in their own yard to improve water quality. Or it's getting involved with fun events and learning about the science of our waterways," according to Julie Rhodes, Collective Impact Director for ROW or Reconnecting to Our Waterways.

"The river belongs to everybody and can be used in a variety of ways. And not just by paddling on the rivers as we're doing today but by visiting the parks, by visiting the cultural Institutions that are along it. By participating in clean-ups. By hiking or biking along the greenways" said Kevin Hardie, executive director of Friends of the White River.

By improving access to the White River and creating awareness, the White River will once again, be a destination for enjoying wildlife, recreation, exercise, relaxation, and tranquility.

There is a new event that taking place this year: the Inaugural Dragon Boat Race, Sept. 29 at the White River State Park. That will be a great way to see how the river can be utilized in a fun and exciting way. For more information, click here.

The Partners of the White River have been removing invasive species and planting native plants, clearing our areas to allow for better views of the river and allowing access to the river where there hasn't been before.

Rhodes said, "It provides a really beautiful area right in urban Indianapolis, for people to interact with on a regular basis, whether it's by bike, walking their dog, reading a book, walking their kids to school, over a waterway. Just ways that folks can connect, get out of their car, disconnect from technology, and really have that quality of life that other cities that have mountains and oceans have.”

"We believe that people actually using the river makes the biggest difference in its long term health. It's becoming familiar with the resource and how you can utilize it. That promotes the sense of stewardship," according to Hardie.

Reconnecting to Our Waterways, along with the Partners of the White River, bring decision makers and policy makers out on the waterways, to understand the need for cleaning up the river and keeping it that way.

With the 15 floats that were purchased thanks to the grant, there are guided tours of the White River, periodically throughout the year. There is one coming up Saturday, Aug. 18. For more information, click here.

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